scispace - formally typeset
Search or ask a question
Journal ArticleDOI

The Illiterate Reader: Aphasia after Auschwitz

01 Jan 2009-Partial Answers (The Johns Hopkins University Press)-Vol. 7, Iss: 2, pp 319-342
TL;DR: The authors make a reinterpretation of Adorno's comment: from a stricture against writing to a statement about the ethics of reading; not a warning against writing atrocity so much as a call for recognizing the atrocity in what we read.
Abstract: After When Adorno made his famous statement in 1949 that "to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric," Paul Celan had already penned "Todesfuge" ("Deathfugue," 1944), one of the most famous poems on the Holocaust, Primo Levi his account of survival in Auschwitz, Se questo e un uomo (If This Is a Man, 1947), and Charlotte Delbo the first section of her trilogy Auschwitz et Apres, Aucun de nous ne reviendra (None of Us Will Return, 1946). The Auschwitz experience evidently stimulated rather than stifled the need for literary expression. This context of literary output inspires a reinterpretation of Adorno's comment: from a stricture against writing to a statement about the ethics of reading; not a warning against writing atrocity so much as a call for recognizing the atrocity in what we read. Nor does Adorno say anything on writing about Auschwitz; as Law- rence Langer points out, this statement appears in an essay that has "little or nothing to do with Holocaust literature or the experience it sought to express" (2006: 123). Adorno makes no claim to the exceptionality of writing about this historical event, which may itself be exceptional — only to an exceptional shift in cultural consciousness, commenting on the time after the event. This reference to chronology rather than content places an emphasis on how we read rather than what we read, imply- ing that we cannot read with conventional assumptions and expectations after Auschwitz has impinged upon our consciousness. The Holocaust radically altered the meaning of practically everything once considered familiar: the concepts of good and evil, civilization, family, friends, com- munity, culture, self, what separates life from death. Adorno raises the question of how it forces us to read in a new way, see film differently,
Citations
More filters
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Collective memory has been used as a source of personal identity and identity of large collectivities as discussed by the authors, and it has become increasingly common to refer to memory as the source not only of personal identities or of the identity of small groups but also of large groups.
Abstract: During the decades following the pioneering work of authors such as Walter Benjamin or Maurice Halbwachs in the 1920s and 1930s, it has become increasingly common to refer to memory as a source not only of personal identity or of the identity of small groups but also of large collectivities. In recent years an ever growing number of studies in a variety of disciplines employ the concept of collective memory. My purpose in analyzing this concept here is not to provide a survey of the ways in which it is employed but to investigate its precise meaning in the methodological perspective of philosophy. I shall examine what exactly we mean when we refer to “collective memory,” and the role of imagination as a source of collectively remembered, communicable experience. My aim is to elucidate the way in which collective memory might be demarcated from constructs of the imagination, above all in the public sphere. Upon initial examination, the concept of “collective memory” presents an immediate difficulty. According to its primary signification, remembrance is carried out in the original sphere of the self. In a strict sense, collectivities never “remember” any more than they have an autonomous, substantial being. And yet, members of a community, vast as it may be, may share remembrances of what can be publicly communicated through word, image, and gesture. In the public sphere, however, it is not generally possible to convey what memory recalls in immediate personal experience: people and things, events and situations as they actually present themselves in a direct encounter or, so to speak, “in the flesh.” My understanding of this term draws on phenomenological theory, and above all on Edmund Husserl, who equated original experience with what he termed experience in the flesh in a given living present

1 citations

Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2012
TL;DR: The story of what it is to be human and to exist in the world of events and actions, is still being revealed to us through scientific, social scientific and philosophical reflection as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: Though certainty and consistency in law is critical to the maintenance of justice, as the living instrument of humankind’s exercise of social regulation, law must be responsive to the normative motivating forces of human agency as they are revealed through scientific, social scientific and philosophical reflection. Whilst the certainties of biblical tenets and taboos, for example, provided firm foundations for the designation of legal principle and continue to provide a proving ground or benchmark against which the development of subsequent principles may be evaluated — for those foundations, after all, arose in response to some fundamental truths concerning human nature — the story of what it is to be human and to exist in the world of events and actions, is still being revealed to us.

1 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors reconstructs the disciplinary history of the concept of phonic or articulatory gesture (Lautgebärde), tracking its origin in early twentieth-century "ethnopsychology" and its afterlife in linguistics and literary theory.
Abstract: Abstract The metaphor of proximity underwriting the notion of ‘close’ reading presumes a sublated distance, as if one were moving ‘up close’ to the text in order to scrutinize optically its every minutiae. Reading aloud, on the other hand, can often seem close reading’s less illustrious sibling, with a reputation for being sound pedagogic practice, a way to make the text one’s ‘own’ by revoicing – and sensually enjoying – it in the body rather than taking it interpretively apart in the mind. As simplistic as these dichotomies are, they have a way of surreptitiously infiltrating hermeneutic practice. In order to think through how close reading and reading aloud productively intertwine, the following argument reconstructs the disciplinary history of the concept of phonic or articulatory gesture (Lautgebärde), tracking its origin in early twentieth-century ‘ethnopsychology’ and its afterlife in linguistics and literary theory. The argument then makes the case that articulatory gestures in poetry pose a significant challenge to literary hermeneutics. This section draws on contemporary work in the phenomenology of embodiment as well as Julia Kristeva’s psychoanalytic account of poetic language in order to probe novel modes of para-hermeneutic reading. The argument’s third and final step focuses on how articulatory gesture, as a general poetic phenomenon, gains historically specific contour and singular poetic function in the poem “Offene Glottis” by Paul Celan, shedding light on Celan’s pneumatic poetics in the process.
Book ChapterDOI
01 Jan 2011
TL;DR: The notion of Goethe's notion of Bildung as the secular self-betterment and social self-realization in an imagined Germany is clearly no longer applicable in the newly realized “normal” state of Germany.
Abstract: In June 2008 the Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel noted “economic success today means education [Bildung] for all.”1 But what does Bildung mean 20 years after the establishment of a “normal” state? Goethe’s notion of Bildung as the secular self-betterment and social self-realization in an imagined Germany is clearly no longer applicable in the newly realized “normal” state of Germany. The great British historian of Germany and Austria Peter Pulzer, as early as 1994, thought about what becoming normal would mean for Germany.2 He stressed the continuation of the Western ideals and structures inherent in the German Federal Republic but also saw them under strain. But what about the older ideals such as Bildung that the Germans, both East and West, had relied on to define themselves as a cultural rather than a political nation? What does Bildung mean 20 years after reunification? Merkel sees Bildung as a universal goal that is the result of economic success (this before the tottering of the Euro zone) rather than individual achievement. She sees it as part of the commerce of modernity, now a universal goal of all Germans because of the supposed economic advantage of reunification.
References
More filters
Book
01 Jan 1986
TL;DR: The DROWNED AND THE SAVED as discussed by the authors is a book written by Primo Levi, who attempted to understand the rationale behind the concentration camps, and was completed shortly before his tragic death in 1987.
Abstract: Shortly after completing THE DROWNED AND THE SAVED, Primo Levi committed suicide. The matter of his death was sudden, violent and unpremiditated, and there were some who argue that he killed himself because he was tormented by guilt - guilt that he had survived the horrors of Auschwitz while others, better than he, had gone to the wall. THE DROWNED AND THE SAVED is Levi's impassioned attempt to understand the 'rationale' behind the concentration camps, was completed shortly before his tragic death in 1987. THE DROWNED AND THE SAVED dispels the myth that Primo Levi forgave the Germans for what they did to his people. He didn't and couldn't forgive. He refused, however, to indulge in what he called 'the bestial vice of hatred' which is an entirely different matter. The voice that sounds in his writing is that of a reasonable man...it warns and reminds us that the unimaginable can happen again. A would-be tyrant is waiting in the wings, with 'beautiful words' on his lips. The book is constantly impressing on us the need to learn from the past, to make sense of the senseless' PAUL BAILEY

863 citations

19 Feb 2018
TL;DR: For instance, this paper argued that any description and classification of aphasic syndromes must be concerned with the question of what aspects of language are impaired in the various species of such a disorder.
Abstract: If aphasia is a language disturbance, as the term itself suggests, then any description and classification of aphasic syndromes must be­ gin with the question of what aspects of language are impaired in the various species of such a disorder. This problem, which was ap­ proached long ago by Hughlings Jackson,l cannot be solved without the participation of professional linguists familiar with the patterning and functioning of language. To study adequately any breakdown in communications we must first understand the nature and structure of the particular mode of communication that has ceased to function. Linguistics is concerned with language in all its aspects-language in operation, language in drift,2 language in the nascent state, and language in dissolution. There are psychopathologists who assign a high importance to the linguistic problems involved in the study of language disturbances;3 some of these questions have been touched upon in the best treatises on aphasia.4 Yet, in most cases, this valid insistence on the linguist's contribution to the investigation of aphasia has been ignored. For in-

580 citations

Book
04 Apr 1988

368 citations